Also, many scientists believe that intelligent beings are social, learn from others, and need a long lifespan to accrue brainpower.
Octopuses live only about a year and are solitary animals.
"It's enjoyable to speculate that nature doesn't always follow our rules [when] it decides to create an intelligent being," Linden said.
The University of Lethbridge's Mather suggests octopuses may have evolved braininess to cope with a highly complex environment—usually coral reefs—where they must make lightning-fast, life-or-death decisions.
For example, the animals are extremely flexible, able to fit their boneless bodies through tiny cracks. Some species can change color in a thirtieth of a second.
As for the crafty cephalopod in Santa Monica, aquarium staffers have rigged her tank with clamps and tape to thwart future getaways, the Los Angeles Times reported.
But, as Mather pointed out, there "isn't an awful lot [that will] stop them."
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